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Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise -- draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.
Hymn 24 to Hestia

Hestia is the virgin goddess of the hearth, architecture, and the right ordering of domesticity, the family, and the state. She was the eldest daughter of the Titans Rhea and Cronus, and sister to Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, and Hades.

Overview

She was a daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and the eldest sister to Hades, Demeter, Rhea, Poseidon and Zeus, and also a member of the Olympians, the twelve key deities of Hellenism.

Hestia was an important goddess who blessed the domestic matters of the Roman citizens, often being even depicted as a living flame, rather than a female goddess.

Appearance

Personality

Powers and Abilities

Hestia is the goddess also known for her flames, and had the power to create flames so hot that the Titan's themselves, who were elemental embodiment, burned, melted and crumbled before her power. The precise limitations and details of Hestia's powers are unknown, however, she was considered on par with Zeus and the rest of her siblings and was venerated as the eldest of the gods so she may well have had the most raw power of all her siblings.

Equipment

  • Lasso of Hestia: Hestia once utilized a lasso enchanted to compel anyone it touched to reveal anything hidden. Following her demise, the lasso was obtained by the Amazons, and later used by Wonder Woman.

History

Immediately after their birth, Cronus swallowed all his children (Hestia was the first who was swallowed and regurgitated) except the last and youngest, Zeus, who forced Cronus to disgorge his siblings and led them in a war against their father and the other Titans. As "first to be devoured...and the last to be yielded up again", Hestia was thus both the eldest and youngest daughter.

Hestia rejected the marriage suits of Poseidon and Apollo, and swore herself to perpetual virginity. She thus rejected Aphrodite's values and became, to some extent, her chaste, domestic complementary, or antithesis. Zeus assigned Hestia a duty to feed and maintain the fires of the Olympian hearth with the fatty, combustible portions of animal sacrifices to the gods. Hestia never left the halls of Olympus and far as she was concerned she never needed to, instead she spent her days cleaning, cooking and maintaining security for the home of the gods.

Myths and Legends

In all the temples of the gods she had a share of honor, and among all mortals she was chief of the goddesses. Hestia was one of the three Goddesses (the other two were Athena and Artemis) that Aphrodite could not affect their "hearts".

As the Roman goddess Vesta

The myths depicting Vesta were few, and were limited to tales of miraculous impregnation by a phallus appearing in the flames of the hearth, the manifestation of the goddess.

Vesta's priestesses were called Vestals or Vestal Virgins, who were the only ones allowed inside her temple. Despite this, Vesta's personal cult was the longest-lasting within the Roman Empire, being officially forced to close down in 391, as Christianity had become the official religion of the state. In more recent times Vesta has regained worshipers again through the religion of Wiccan.

According to tradition, worship of Vesta began in Lavinium, the mother-city of Alba Longa and the first Trojan settlement. From Lavinium worship of Vesta was transferred to Alba Longa. Upon entering higher office, Roman magistrates would go to Lavinium to offer sacrifice to Vesta and the household gods the Romans called Penates. The Penates were Trojan gods first introduced to Italy by Aeneas. Alongside those household gods was Vesta, who has been referred to as Vesta Iliaca (Vesta of Troy),  with her sacred hearth being named Ilaci foci (Trojan hearth).

Worship of Vesta, like the worship of many gods, originated in the home, but became an established cult during the reign of either Romulus, or Numa Pompilius. Their existence in Alba Longa is connected with the early Roman traditions, for Romulus' mother Silvia was a priestess.

Where most temples would have a statue, that of Vesta had a hearth. The fire was a religious center of Roman worship, the common hearth of the whole Roman people. The Vestals were obliged to keep the sacred fire alight. If the fire went out, it must be lit from an arbor felix, auspicious tree. Water was not allowed into the inner aedes nor could stay longer than strictly needed on the nearby premises. It was carried by the Vestales in vessels called futiles which had a tiny foot that made them unstable.

Plutarch told a variation of Romulus' birth citing a compilation of Italian history by a Promathion. In this version, while Tarchetius was king of Alba Longa, a phantom phallus appeared in his hearth. The king visited an oracle of Tethys in Etrusca, who told him that a virgin must have intercourse with this phallus. Tarchetius instructed one of his daughters to do so, but she refused sending a handmaiden in her place. Angered, the king contemplated her execution; however, Vesta appeared to him in his sleep and forbade it. When the handmaid gave birth to twins by the phantom, Tarchetius handed them over to his subordinate, Teratius, with orders to destroy them. Teratius instead carried them to the shore of the river Tiber and laid them there. Then a she-wolf came to them and breastfed them, birds brought them food and fed them, before an amazed cow-herder came and took the children home with him. Thus they were saved, and when they were grown up, they set upon Tarchetius and overcame him. Plutarch concludes with a contrast between Promathion's version of Romulus' birth and that of the more credible Fabius Pictor which he describes in a detailed narrative and lends support to.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus recounts a local story regarding the birth of king Servius Tullius. In it, a phallus rose from the hearth of Vesta in Numa's palace, and Ocresia was the first to see it. She immediately informed the king and queen. King Tarquinius, upon hearing this, was astonished; but Tanaquil, whose knowledge of divination was well-known, told him it was a blessing that a birth by the hearth's phallus and a mortal woman would produce superior offspring. The king then chose Ocresia to have intercourse with it, for she had seen it first. During which either Vulcan, or the tutelary deity of the house, appeared to her. After disappearing, she conceived and delivered Tullius. This story of his birth could be based off his name as Servius would euphemistically mean "son of servant", because his mother was a handmaiden.

Quotes

I am Vesta. I bring forth the Eternal Holy Flame, also known as, the Perpetuity Flame of Protection. I am the god of festive flare, protector of justice, the expeller of evil--- Explain why you've all come here, children?
Hestia to the Roman people.
Heh. Good night, you crazy people.
Hestia

Gallery

Trivia

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